The ten greatest football shirt sponsors of all time

The ten greatest football shirt sponsors of all time

Call it misplaced nostalgia but football shirt sponsors used to be so much better before every club had a betting firm emblazoned across their jerseys.

There was once a time when the logo of the company which had paid (not very much) for the privilege of appearing on the shirt actually added to the aesthetic, instead of diminishing it.

Anyway, in tribute to those simpler times - and to help us pass the long, long days of spring 2020 - we've picked the ten greatest football shirt sponsors of all time*.

* Don’t @ us.

10. Quilmes - Boca Juniors

There are a few reasons why Quilemes makes it into our top ten. Firstly, beer. Secondly, the brewery was founded in a province of Buenos Aires just 10 miles from La Bombonera. Third, that font - it's made for a football shirt. And finally, the combination of branding and Boca's unmistakable colours is just sensational.

9. No smoking - West Brom

Smoking is cool. It is. Think Johan Cruyff drawing on a Marlboro. Or early-90s Arsene Wenger puffing away in the dug-out. Or Dimitar Berbatov giving precisely zero fucks and lighting up in public. Cool. West Bom's shirt between 1984 and 1986 was also cool - even though it discouraged chugging fags. Smoking was pretty much de reigueur for fans back then – perhaps that’s why the West Midland Health Board tried to use the power of shirt sponsorship to get their message across.

8. Newcastle Brown Ale - Newcastle

The star from the Newkie Brown logo featuring the silhouette of the Newcastle skyline, including the Tyne Bridge, has featured on a number of Newcastle shirts but not since 1995 - which is a tragedy, because it's a thing of beauty.

 

7. Panasonic - Marseille

We're indifferent to Panasonic. The Japanese electronics company is inoffensive, mid-range, beige. Even the logo is forgettable - but when it was combined with Marseille's shirt circa 1990, something special happened. Ooh la la.

6. ERG - Sampdoria

Another of those brands that are familiar to millions of football fans, none of whom have a fucking clue what the company actually is or does. Apparently, the abbreviation stands for Edoardo Raffinerie Garrone, who's a former president of the club. 'ERG' has taken on an altogether more sinister definition in recent times thanks to Jacob Rees-Mogg and his lunatic associates but let's not let them ruin this magnificent shirt/sponsor combo.

Shop our collection of football shirts here.

 

5. Mars - Napoli

Mars bars are horrible. Too sweet. Fun size are ok but the big ones are chocolate-covered diabetes. But that font... it's just delicious. Stick it on the front of a Napoli shirt and kerrr-bang. Wow. Maradona and Napoli wore a splendid Ennerre shirt complete with Mars sponsor when they won their second (and last) Scudetto in 1989/90. 

Shop our collection of Napoli shirts here.

 

4. Die Continentale - Dortmund

Founded in Dortmund in 1926, Die Continentale is a health insurance firm, which is, obviously, very boring. However, the company logo is weirdly excellent - and combined with those ace fluorescent Dortmund kits of the 90s added up to something wunderschön.

Shop our collection of Dortmund shirts here.

 

3. ABN-AMRO - Ajax

A vertical sponsor? A VERTICAL FUCKING SPONSOR? It feels very decadent this, doesn't it? Was the decision made due to the unique colour split on the Ajax home shirt? Or was it just showing off? Who knows? Someone probably does, to be fair. Regardless, the Dutch banking group's relationship with Ajax dates back to 1991 when they replaced TDK - another classic of the genre – and they were together throughout the mid-90s glory years, all the way until 2008. Truly iconic. 

 

2. Pirelli - Inter

The Milanese tyre manufacturer first appeared on the Inter shirt back in 1995 and is now as integral to the jersey as the blue and black stripes. It seems though that one of football’s most beautiful unions is drawing to a close - according to Gazzetta dello Sport, Chinese real estate group Evergrande is set to become the main shirt sponsor of the Nerazzurri from 2021. The last thing we need in this world of uncertainty. Sob.

Shop our collection of Inter Milan shirts here.

 

1. Nintendo - Fiorentina

Here's the thing about Nintendo and Fiorentina: the game console manufacturer only appeared on the famous Viola shirt for two seasons. Two! And yet, and yet... here we are - top of the pile, numero uno, the crème de la crème. Why? Was it that Gabriel Batistuta wore the logo across his chest when he was at his incredible best? Was it that the logo was set against those gorgeous Fila shirts? Was it that we actually knew what Nintendo was? Perhaps it's a cocktail of all those things. Or maybe, maybe we should just enjoy the magic without trying to understand it.

Shop our collection of Fiorentina shirts here.

 

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